Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Digital Frontier: eTextbooks

Larissa Krassovsky / April 23 2012

Students may soon be bringing their Nooks, Kindles, iPads and smartphones to class for reasons other than playing games.

With the phase of iPads, Nooks and Kindles, eTextbooks are allowing faculty a new way to assign readings. Because of this, a group of over 100 scientists, instructors, scientific illustrators, interaction designers and faculty reviewers have been working on a digital textbook to bring their original vision to life, according to Vikram Savkar, senior vice president and publishing director of Nature Publishing Group, in an e-mail interview.

“The eBook “Principles of Biology” has not yet been adopted by Sonoma State University,  ... .

“Principles of Biology” was created by Nature Publishing Group as the first in what publishers at Nature intend to be a broad series of interactive textbooks in the life and physical sciences, ... .

[snip]

He added that instructors will occasionally want to consult their book and even take tests while in class. Therefore, the fortunate thing about “Principles of Biology” is that it is accessible on just about any device, ... .

[snip]

“These possibilities include continually updating the material in the textbook to reflect the changing state of science, using rich interactive exercises to make complex subjects easily comprehensible, giving instant feedback to students on their performance on self-tests and formal tests,” said Savkar.

“It also allows instructors to easily customize textbooks to match the exact sequence and the way they would like to teach the material,” he added.

[snip]

“This means that rather than building their entire editorial and authorship process around the goal of creating exclusively text and figures, publishers must put their creativity into delivering rich digital, interactive experiences,” said Savkar. ... .

There are many things to consider about requiring digital textbooks, according to Thomas Buckley, assistant professor of biology. Buckley believes it depends on if the book is of good value and if the content is right for the class.

[snip]

The “Principles of Biology” does have the option of printing off the materials and carrying the hard copy, ... .


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